Felicia Day's Success With The Guild Highlights The Importance Of Authenticity With A Community

from the keep-it-up dept

Just about a year ago, we wrote about how actress Felicia Day had turned her web production, The Guild into a big success, by building a community of fans, connecting with them, and then coming up with some interesting ways to make money from that, including a unique sponsorship deal with Microsoft. Reader tuna points us to a Fast Company profile that updates us on how the last year has gone, and it sounds like things have only improved over time.

One of the keys to the success is that she chose the sponsorship deal with Microsoft, in large part because it let her retain creative control over the project -- allowing it to remain authentic and true to what her fans wanted and expected.
As buzz built, Day and her company, Knights of Good Productions, signed with ICM new-media head George Ruiz. "At one point, there were 25 different offers on the table," Ruiz says, "including from some major studios and networks and even a director with several $100 million films."

Day turned down every one. "She said, 'George, don't make me take this deal!' " he says. So by the time Microsoft came calling, the agent had a new approach: The Guild is not for sale, but you can license it.

The Seattle-based behemoth bit. Microsoft pays an undisclosed fee to debut each season exclusively on the company's Xbox Live, MSN, and Zune platforms (season four debuted in mid-July). "There is a common perception about Microsoft," says Day. "Especially when we first signed with them, the fans had reservations." But she was impressed that it got what she was doing and didn't want to interfere. "Microsoft doesn't even give me notes [on scripts]!"
This is a key point that often gets lost in business model discussions. When we talk about different offerings, it's amazing how much people discount the importance of authenticity as a scarcity. We see it all the time with companies who want to sponsor something, and then have tremendous level of control -- losing all of the authenticity and, with it, much of the value (and, eventually, audience). It's nice to see a situation where a company (in this case, Microsoft) properly recognized when not to get too involved.

Filed Under: authenticity, community, felicia day, the guild


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  1. icon
    Dark Helmet (profile), 20 Aug 2010 @ 6:02am

    I think what's difficult...

    ...is building up the critical mass audience. It's great that MS acted right on this project with their sponsorship. The key is how Felicia got there in the first place.

    It's something I'm struggling with myself. I believe in my work. I get positive feedback on it from others. The question is how to build an audience through active participation without coming across as a pushy salesman....

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